I ran into a rather interesting article in the Milwaukee Journal from October 13, 1919. It relates to my hometown of Markesan and a wash machine that was built there. This Milwaukee paper was advertising a washing machine, but it wasn’t just ANY washing machine, it was a “THE MARKESAN” electric wash machine.
What most people don’t know is that “THE MARKESAN” was a washing machine built by the Markesan Laundry Machine Company based in Markesan, Wisconsin. According to local historians, this company produced these machines for a total of four years. After four years of operating in Markesan, the owners sold the business. According to local legend, the men who bought the patents and designs from the Markesan company were the same men who formed what is today Speed Queen. Speed Queen offers no information about the Markesan wash machines on their website, so I guess that is still up for debate.
A list of gazetteers from the Markesan shows the company listed in there 1919-1920 and 1921-1922 local business listing. The Markesan Historical Society actually has one of these original machines and owners manual on display at the Grand River Valley Museum. What astonished me about the ad is that these machines made there way down to Milwaukee! Markesan is the only Markesan on the planet, so the chances of a person down in Milwaukee just randomly coming up with that name for their machine is slim to zero. When I contacted the Markesan Historical Society about this, they were astonished to see it advertised in Milwaukee too. I wonder how this deal was worked out between these two companies.
I have been trying to do research on the company down in Milwaukee that was selling these (Independent Electric Washer Co.) but have not found anything on the internet. I was able to find the building where these were sold in and the building still stands today! The wash machine company selling “THE MARKESAN” was in the Matthews Building, built by the Matthews Bros. Furniture Co., located on Wisconsin Avenue.
I guess the hunt continues for information on the Markesan Laundry Machine Co. and the Independent Electric Washer Co.. If anyone has any information on either one of these companies, I would surly appreciate the info.